Guy Clark Remembered

I woke up on May 17th to the news that Guy Clark had passed away. It was truly a sad day, while I had never met Guy, and I wasn't even lucky enough to catch him live I've had a connection to his music for a number of years now...

In 2008 I recall sitting around another such fire in central Florida late in the evening with a belly full of authentic Texas food cooked by an old raw boned cowboy wearing a wide brimmed hat, run down boots with traditional jeans and since it was hot out his Long Johns served as his shirt. I'd wandered in and out of many camp fires that week at the historical encampment, played numerous fires and listened to and told countless stories. The cowboy, who preferred to be called "Buddy" had come over from Texas to share the week with friends, and true to his camps arrangement Buddy was in charge of food and entertainment for the evening... That's somehow where I fit in. I'm not really even sure how I had been flagged to attend the dinner or to join in the inevitable guitar pull that would follow a rib sticking meal of dutch oven made Spanish Payaya but there I was tuning my guitar while the old timers and those who were of age passed around a jar of peach moonshine...

Songs about cowboys and outlaws like Billy The Kid started up and then someone sang a song about Ireland, I sang a song about a train and then the round came to another Cowboy who had wondered up to the fire and he sang "Stuff That Works"

Right there I heard the first song in a genre that I finally fully understood to be "Americana" sure the name had been passed around since "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?" had shaken the music world up with it's raw rootsy old time sound but for some reason all the old time music had never been all that personal to me... This was personal though! After that nights fire I walked away with a pretty good introduction to "Texas Songwriters" and I went home and started hunting down Guy Clark albums one at a time and pulling apart the fibers of the music. I didn't write much for the next four years! The shear amount of depth and honesty that I found in Guy's music made me feel as if I should just hang it up as a songwriter until I'd learned to be a more traveled person of the road called life. 

In 2012 while going through a lot of tough breaks and hard knocks the songs of Guy Clark came again to me as I was trying to pinpoint some influences I could share with some artists I was playing sideman to, and by Fall of that year I was in studio wrapping up the final day of a record with a friend when the producer and my friend went out for coffee, I stayed behind and penned my first full song in a long while... The flood gates opened and I began writing like never before, I wrote as I had once heard someone say about Guy's music "Straight from the heart, no filter" It was weeks later that I had the courage to play any of it for friends and the first thing someone randomly said was "you're channeling your inner Guy Clark on that one" It was probably the biggest compliment I had ever received as a songwriter! I had read that Guy was suffering from various health issues and I knew that our window of time was short but he left a lasting mark on me, his music and his wit will remain as one of the major foundation cornerstones of American songwriting and I can honestly say I look forward to sharing his music with my son some day. Guy Clark was an Americana pioneer in the art of song craft and I feel fortunate to be one of many who can say Guy shaped my music.



 

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